2017 Top Stories: Kahuku coaching carousel continues

Kahuku head coach Makoa Freitas coached up running back Enoch Nawahine during a game against Campbell. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

In Tuesday’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Paul Honda wrote about the top 10 prep stories of 2017. You can read it here.

Here’s a deeper look at one of the 10 stories.

2. Kahuku coaching carousel continues

Some call it a coaching carousel, but it’s more like basic protocol these days for that famous athletic program on the North Shore.

Perhaps the most dynamic environment for high school coaches is at Kahuku, where it’s not quite a typical prep sports situation when it comes to football and other sports. Two years ago, a few coaches including then-boys basketball coach Darren Johnson were instructed by administration to re-apply for their positions after the season.

Johnson and other coaches were taken aback and decided not to re-apply. It was a controversial topic then, but the program at Kahuku stood its ground and everyone moved on. Johnson is now the football coach at Campbell.

When word got out that current Kahuku football coach Makoa Freitas would be required to re-apply, there was consternation from the community. The Red Raiders had just won the OIA championship and reached the state final, but Freitas’ hesitation about re-applying had nothing to do with the process.

“It’s a big time commitment, so I just wanted to make sure,” he said on Monday.

The process involves the usual paperwork and procedure. He doesn’t view it as a guarantee, even after an 11-2 season and the development of Kahuku’s offense.

“They just wanted resumes sent in. Hopefully, I will get an interview,” said Freitas, a former NFL offensive lineman.

His mind-set is something one of his mentors, former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, would probably be proud to see. Not all coaches have the willingness to re-apply every offseason.

“Yeah, but it’s OK. The players are worth it,” Freitas said.


  1. DoooooontExplainIt _\,,/ January 3, 2018 3:58 pm

    I hope Kahuku re-hires this man. Coach Freitas is a humble, soft spoken giant that any parent would love to have as their kid’s head football coach.

  2. ALL IN January 3, 2018 4:23 pm

    Coach Freitas is not re-applying BUT rather he is applying for the first time as he was Interim Coach this past season. A little digging and asking questions to the appropriate people would’ve gotten you that explanation HPW!
    Good luck Coach Freitas!

  3. Awrite!! January 3, 2018 4:52 pm

    Had Kahuku lost to Waianae in that state semi-final would you all be feeling the same way about Freitas return? Kahuku did not show up to play in that game and that falls on the coaches.

    I have no problem and actually feel good about Freitas and both his OC and DC returning. I Hope they do because they will only get better in their 2nd year.

  4. Mahatma Gandhi January 3, 2018 6:03 pm

    Awrite, do you think that was what is was? That Kahuku didn’t show up to play vs Waianae? That simple? or do you think Waianae came to play, knowing full well that they once owned OIA football and that is was Kahuku who stole the mantle of the OIA top football program from them, and it was Waianae’s way of standing up to the program that showed them up. Waianae does not have the players they had in the 1970s. I don’t know if the Waianae Coast is not producing quality football players anymore, of if the top players are getting recruited by the ILH.
    Dakota Torres, now at UH is from Waianae. You gotta assume he was recruited by Punahou. He is a legitimate player, not a late signee to fill out the class. But he is not Pac-12 quality. Punahou only recruited bonafide Pac-12 players back in the 1970s. Like Mark Tuinei and Mosi Tatupu. I seen Kahuku overtake Waianae in the 1980s, little by little.

  5. The Last thing Kahuku needs is a new coach January 3, 2018 9:24 pm

    Maybe the AD Yamagata should reapply for her job every year! This may seem like formality and I don’t know if other schools do this but I think this is such a non appreciative way to show your coach he’s valued.
    Plain and simple how many people out there would take this job or any other job knowing no matter how well you succeed and make a positive impact on to your team or company you would still be told to reapply for your job that makes zero sense. When I saw that Coach Reggie was on the mainland and was told he had to reapply for his job I though it was a joke! This guy won multiple state championships for Kahuku and garnered National top 25 rankings, poured his heart and soul into the School and athletic programs in Football, judo, wrestling and you screw him over by hiring a outsider from Idaho??? Lee Lesley only for him to be given a hand with Aces and faces and the same suit only to screw it up and not even make it to a State Championship! And then leave after a year saying he didn’t anticipate how hard it would be away from family….. then we get Tata…. hey much mahalos and respect for what you did for our community and bringing the north shore a title but then just to dig out and leave everyone hanging and just wondering what next? Now we get a guy who you can tell is genuinely passionate about the program and the most important thing the Kids! It’s just a slap in the face to a good man and a deserving man, this kind of unstable environment is ridiculous, you think Coach Cal Lee is told to reapply for his job? Idk long story short someone should investigate Yamagata and her state of mind if she is even competent to be a Athletic director of a school.

  6. Whhy January 4, 2018 12:23 am

    Time to play devils advocate.

    Coaching/mentoring is a privilege. You need to earn it. Coach Frieda’s, he understands that this is a position earned he did a good job, good luck to him on his application if that’s what he chose to do. This school is willing to say, hey if you want to coach here you should be “the best” (however they determine that to be). So they ask that question of their coaches year in and year out. Sounds like a good idea to me. I know a lot of
    jobs that do yearly evaluations, imagine how much more effort you would put into that job because you want to stay on for another year?

  7. anywaaaays!! January 4, 2018 9:43 am

    Whyy, that’s the stupidest thing I ever heard. Name me another powerhouse school at the high school, college, or even NFL level that requires all successful coaches to reapply and re-interview every year. They usually reward coaches with multi year lucrative contracts to prevent them from being poached by other schools who will show appreciation by rewarding good coaches. When a coach does a good job, you give them a multi year contract to show that the institution values their commitment and work. They conduct end of year reviews and if the coach isn’t living up to that contract, they fire them. They DON’T do some massive job search at the end of every year to prove that their current coach is “the best.”

    What an absolutely stupid argument.

    What AD yamagata should do is sign Coach Freitas to a multi year contract, with bonuses and a top end salary. The fact that she doesn’t do this proves what a wreck our athletic department is. Her mismanagement of Kahuku athletic department really makes me wonder if she’s a part of the ILH Agenda. RRFL!

  8. 88 January 4, 2018 10:36 am

    anywaaays, can you shut up? Posing from fake accounts. that’s so weak.

  9. bumbuchas January 4, 2018 12:17 pm

    hopefully Principal Donna Lindsey will bring some stability to Kahuku Athletics. It has been a dysfunctional Administration starting with that interim Principal Paula Masaniai who decreed all HC’s to resign and re-apply which led to the musical chairs of revolving HC’s. It is a credit to the players themselves who weathered the instability of coaching structure to be as successful as Kahuku football has been. Personally, I thought Makoa Freitas did a wonderful job of stepping in and continue their success which is not an easy task of following and stepping into the shoes of Tata & Torres. If Freitas is their man, I dunno why they just never give him the job. Leilehua let it be known that Kurisu was to be the next HC once Tokuda retired.

  10. bumbuchas January 4, 2018 1:35 pm

    Eh, what happened to the posting about separate public & private state FB championship tournament? Deleted? Censorship?

  11. Whhy January 4, 2018 3:39 pm

    anywaaaays!! – Listen, either people can apply to be the Coach (of one of the top football high schools in the nation) or don’t apply. Those are the options. Everything else is irrelevant. If you think you should stand your ground like other Coaches have and move on guess what? #NextManUp. Somebody else will be the Coach next year. We don’t have school sports so Coach So and So can be the Coach every year we have sports so kids can have fun, learn discipline, and hopefully for some get scholarships to help with continuing their education.

  12. anywaaaays!! January 4, 2018 11:51 pm

    Again, Whyy, name me one top level program (or hell, ANY program) at the high school, college, or NFL level that forces all of their coaches to reapply when the season is over regardless of how well or poorly the season went. Go ahead. I’ll wait. RRFL!

  13. Whhy January 5, 2018 8:03 am

    Anywa- Look it up. Every HS coaching job in Hawaii is a ONE YEAR contract. If you don’t understand what that means, it means after the one year you don’t have that job anymore. This isn’t the union it’s not automatic to renew. Every coach goes into that eyes wide open. Every year the school and coach need to agree on coming back. If you are a top tier program like Kahuku you have the option of saying… Hey you did great and we hope you apply again. If your AD at your HS high school is just hitting the snooze alarm on their job and just renewing every sport coach because that makes it less work for them then great.

    By the way. Read my post. I never said college or NFL does this so get over yourself. But I will say, if you believe that they don’t closely scrutinize their coaches year in and year out you are crazy. If they find a reason to drop someone or they decide to take their program in another direction they will make a change.

  14. Whhy January 5, 2018 9:42 am

    Excuse me, that was supposed to be in OIA, I dont know the details for ILH or outer island schools… but I am big enough to admit that too.

  15. anywaaaays!! January 5, 2018 8:27 pm

    Whyy, I did read your post. you said it’s a good idea that this crap show of a coaching carousel that yamagata makes kahuku go through every year is a good one, because it makes the school get “the best” coaches. so, name me one top level program, high school, college, or NFL that requires their coaches to reapply every year and hold interview processes.

    Nobody does this. because it’s stupid and it’s not how any of this works. If you think that this is standard practice in the OIA to fire all coaches at the end of the year and have everyone re-interview for the job instead of just having the coach roll over into the next year, then name me one school that does this aside from Kahuku.

    Instead of a new football coach, we need a new AD.

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